Background

Rima Khalaf, in her capacity as coordinator of the regional commissions, briefed the Board on the independent study, sponsored by the commissions, on the regional dimension of development and the United Nations. She noted that the study examined issues driving regional dynamics and suggested ways in which the United Nations system, including the regional commissions, could better support Member States within the changing context of regionalism.

The study underscored that growing regionalism, reflecting the less formal arrangements among Governments, the widening scope of issues covered, as well as the involvement of non-governmental actors, had increasingly allowed people to connect and cooperate across borders. Ms. Khalaf stressed that the United Nations system was well positioned to support synergies in that context. The study documented a significant degree of engagement by the United Nations system at the regional level, which was exemplified through the more than 150 different memorandums of understanding, agreements and other structures of collaboration with more than 30 organizations in all regions. At the same time, almost all of the 24 organizations that responded to the study questionnaire, and the regional commissions, agreed that enhanced regional cooperation, not only among countries, but also among the United Nations system organizations working together with regional intergovernmental bodies, had reaped many benefits. They included enhanced policy coherence and programme effectiveness and efficiency, strengthened national and regional capabilities and leadership, enhanced aid effectiveness, enhanced visibility and impact and reduced overhead costs. The study also suggested that whenever there was a high degree of collaboration among United Nations system agencies to support regional initiatives or processes, the outcomes were highly effective and successful, in terms of both impact and implementation.

Ms. Khalaf highlighted the study’s recommendations, which sought a renewed political recognition from CEB of the importance of regionalism and an acknowledgment of the increasing importance of the regional dimension of development. Other recommendations were focused on key elements of processes and organizational frameworks that needed to be put in place to facilitate substantive engagement in the regions. In taking the recommendations forward, she hoped that CEB would devote an in-depth discussion to growing regionalism and the respective repositioning of the United Nations system. She, along with the other executive secretaries, was committed to leveraging the assets and capacity of the regional commissions in collaboration with all organizations of the United Nations system to support growing regionalism.

Discussion

The UNDP Administrator expressed some concern over the recommendations in the study as, in her view, they pertained to a different level of coordination arrangements at the regional level. She requested that the report also be considered by the United Nations Development Group.

Action

The Board thanked Ms. Khalaf for her presentation and requested the High-level Committee on Programmes to revert to this issue at its next session and report back to the Board at its next session.